Leonard A. Cole, "The Anthrax Letters: A Medical Detective Story"

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Leonard A. Cole, "The Anthrax Letters: A Medical Detective Story"
Natl Academy of Science | ISBN 030908881X | 2003 Year | linked PNG-files | 21,7 Mb | 256 Pages


On October 5, 2001, Bob Stevens, a 63-year-old photo editor for the tabloid newspaper the Sun, became the first confirmed bioterrorism fatality in the U.S. Over the next several weeks, nearly two dozen people were diagnosed with anthrax, five of whom died. Disentangling a coherent story from the snarl of conflicting reports, multi-agency responses, blaring headlines, empty leads and the shaky scientific data surrounding the anthrax attacks is no simple task, which makes Cole's accomplished book all the more impressive. As an expert on the intersection of politics and terrorism, Cole (The Eleventh Plague) takes the reader on a captivating, no-nonsense tour of America's public health system, where physicians, scientists and administrators work tirelessly to establish protocols and policies, task forces and education programs, emergency response strategies and stockpiles of vital medicines to safeguard the country from a potentially catastrophic bioterror event. The book also supplies the chilling details that the short-lived media flareup failed to convey-such as the durability of anthrax spores, which can lie dormant but remain lethal for hundreds of years; the contamination of massive postal facilities that remain unsafe even after multimillion-dollar clean-up efforts; the difficulties involved in diagnosing many anthrax cases, which can display ambiguous symptoms; and the persistent, residual effects of the disease. Without even a hint of sensationalism, this disquieting but hopeful book skillfully zeros in on the most crucial issues and scientific advances as well as the heroic individuals who averted disaster while under the intense glare of public scrutiny.